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Japan to reopen to mass tourism from October | Economy News

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says rules restricting tourists to package tours will be scrapped from next month.

Japan will lift strict pandemic-related border restrictions from October, paving the way for mass tourism for the first time in two and a half years.

Speaking in New York City, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said individual travel and visa-free travel will resume from Oct. 11 as the world’s third-largest economy tries to reconnect with the world.

“We are a nation that has thrived on the free flow of people, goods and capital,” Kishida, who represents the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in the United States, said on Thursday.

“COVID-19 has of course disrupted all of these benefits, but starting October 11, Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the US, and resume visa-free travel and individual travel.”

The move marks Japan as one of the last economies to resume tourism and large-scale travel, with only China yet to announce plans to lift its strict border controls.

As part of a partial easing of restrictions in place since June, Japan only allows tourists on package tours and has a cap on daily arrivals, currently set at 50,000. Travelers to the country must also apply for a visa.

The severe restrictions have resulted in foreign tourists largely avoiding the country. Only about 8,000 international visitors arrived in July, compared to about 3 million in the same month in 2019.

Tourism companies and business groups had urged the government to reopen borders and warned that Japan could be left behind if the rest of the world learns to live with the virus.

Despite its isolation, Japan recorded some of the highest numbers of COVID cases in the world last month, with more than 250,000 daily infections, although the country’s cumulative death toll remains among the lowest in the world.

Gary Bowerman, director of travel and tourism research firm Check-in Asia, said Japan’s reopening is “a key barometer” of the recovery in Asia-Pacific travel, which is lagging behind other parts of the world.

“It is a popular year-round destination, a major source of travelers for the region and an integral player in the Asia-Pacific aviation sector,” Bowerman, whose company is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, told Al Jazeera.

“The opening is timed to coincide with the normally popular winter season. However, like all Asia-Pacific countries, pre-pandemic Japan tourism was heavily influenced by the Chinese overseas market. The pace and extent of any recovery in inbound travel will depend on how quickly airlines are able to rebuild capacity.”

“There’s certainly pent-up demand for travel to Japan, but like other country openings we’ve seen in the region, that demand may not be unleashed immediately,” Bowerman added.

“I think the next few months will be about managing expectations, but travel flows will increase, both inbound and outbound.”

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Tropical rains flood parts of Thailand, 5,000 seek shelter

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Waist-deep water inundated some riverside neighborhoods and other areas of Thailand on Thursday after a tropical depression triggered torrential rain and downed trees, causing at least one death.

The heaviest rainfall, about 22 centimeters (8.5 inches) in 24 hours, was recorded in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, where more than 5,000 people were evacuated to higher-elevation shelters.

One person was reportedly killed and two injured by falling trees in Sisaket province.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Noru advanced into Thailand overnight after striking central Vietnam, causing power outages and blowing away roofs and billboards. No casualties were immediately reported in Vietnam.

Flooding has affected more than 10,000 homes in Thailand, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

A resident wades through floodwaters in Ubon Ratchathani province, northeast Thailand, on Thursday, September 29, 2022. (AP)

Rescue workers waded through waist-deep water to distribute food and care packages to people trapped in their homes.

In Nonthaburi province, which borders the capital Bangkok, an overflow of the Chao Phraya River flooded several riverside neighborhoods.

Officials said more sandbags will be made available to help stem the floodwaters.

The Meteorological Department said Noru continued to weaken but warned seasonal monsoon rains will continue, adding to the already flooded situation across much of the country.

As the rains continued to fall, several dams released water to prevent overflow, affecting low-lying agricultural land and communities downstream.

Before hitting Vietnam, Noru was a powerful typhoon that claimed eight lives in the Philippines, including five rescuers who drowned trying to save people from rising tides.

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Putin plans to formally annex 4 regions from Ukraine Friday : Centre County Report

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Russian soldiers stand in central Moscow’s Red Square on Thursday as the square is cordoned off ahead of a ceremony to allegedly incorporate new territories into Russia. Banners on the stage read: “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson — Russia!”

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Russian soldiers stand in central Moscow’s Red Square on Thursday as the square is cordoned off ahead of a ceremony to allegedly incorporate new territories into Russia. Banners on the stage read: “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson — Russia!”

Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

MOSCOW — The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to officially annex four territories of Ukraine on Friday — capping a week in which Moscow-backed proxies claimed victory in staged and internationally condemned referendums.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin invited Russian lawmakers to the Kremlin’s ornate St. George’s Hall for a signing ceremony on the incorporation of Ukrainian lands at 3:00 p.m. local time on Friday.

The Russian leader will also make a long speech, Peskov said.

In a similar move, Moscow authorities announced they would restrict traffic in the city center on Friday ahead of a mass rally in support of the annexation.

Near the Kremlin, workers set up stages and billboards in support of the annexation, which read: “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson – are Russia!”

A countdown clock to the celebration is now prominently displayed on the screen of the state television channel Russia 24.

Russian lawmakers could be discussing the incorporation of the regions as early as October 4. Reuters reportedciting the head of the upper house of parliament.

Russia’s deputy authorities in Ukraine’s four regions arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, reportedly carrying Referendum results they claim to show an overwhelming majority of residents want to join the Russian Federation.

The trial has drawn widespread international condemnation. Ukraine and its Western partners have called the referendums held at gunpoint a “sham.” The chief of political affairs of the United Nations these ballots determined violated international law and the results cannot be considered an expression of the will of the people.

The Russian government’s attempt at annexation has unfolded as it works to mobilize hundreds of thousands of additional troops to fight in Ukraine after a Ukrainian counter-offensive retook areas in the northeast and south this month.

Western officials have pointed to this point in time as evidence of the Kremlin’s desperation to consolidate Russia’s gains before they fizzle out completely.

Meanwhile, Russian officials have insisted that the newly incorporated countries are entitled to full protection under Russian military doctrine – even threatening to use Russia’s nuclear arsenal to force Kyiv and the West to accept the new borders.

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Former eBay execs get prison time for ‘extreme’ harassment campaign against couple

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Two former eBay Inc. security executives were jailed Thursday for leading a campaign to harass and intimidate a Massachusetts couple through threats and disrupting home deliveries after their online newsletter drew the ire of the company’s then-CEO would have.

Jim Baugh and David Harville were sentenced to 57 and 24 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a widespread harassment campaign in which the couple were sent cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody Halloween pig mask.

US District Judge Patti Saris, who handed down the verdict during the Boston hearings, called it an “hard to imagine” scheme fueled by a “toxic culture” at the Silicon Valley e-commerce company.

“It was extreme and outrageous,” said Saris.

She asked Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, and Harville, former director of global resiliency, to also pay fines of $40,000 and $20,000, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to cyberstalking had pleaded guilty.

From Baugh’s guilty plea in April:

In couCentre County Report, both apologized to David and Ina Steiner, a couple in Natick, Mass. who produce the EcommerceBytes newsletter, and spoke of being relentlessly terrorized by eBay employees.

“As agents of eBay, they made our life hell,” David Steiner told the judge.

Drastic allegations

Prosecutors said senior executives viewed the newsletter critical of eBay and a threat to its business, and in August 2019 then-CEO Devin Little wrote to another executive that it was time to “take her down” and moved based on Ina Steiner.

Little, a former Thomson Reuters executive who resigned as eBay CEO in September 2019, was not charged, but seven other people were. A spokesman said Little had “absolutely no knowledge” of the actions they had taken.

Then eBay CEO Devin Wenig is shown at a conference in Washington, DC on November 8, 2018. It has been repoCentre County Reported that Little was upset by comments in the couple’s newsletter, but he has denied any involvement in the campaign against them. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The campaign was overseen by Baugh, a former Central Intelligence Agency employee who his lawyer said felt pressured to take action.

At Baugh’s direction, the Steiners received anonymous, harassing Twitter messages, bizarre emails and unsolicited home deliveries such as spiders and a book about surviving the loss of a spouse, prosecutors said.

It also alleged that pornographic magazines with the husband’s name on them were mailed to a neighbor’s house and ran a Craigslist ad inviting prospects to sexual encounters at the victim’s home.

civil proceedings open

Prosecutors said other eBay employees involved were Harville, whom Baugh recruited with a contractor for an “operation” to monitor the Steiners and unsuccessfully attempt to install a GPS tracker on their car.

eBay apologized to the Steiners last year.

“The wrongdoing by these former employees was wrong, and we will do everything that is fair and reasonable to try to address what the Steiners went through,” the company said. “The events of 2019 should never have happened and as eBay expressed to the Steiners, we are very sorry for what they have suffered.”

The couple have sued the company and Little, among others, with the Boston Globe repoCentre County Reporting earlier this year that attempts to settle the lawsuit out of couCentre County Report have so far failed.

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